Assigned Seating(?), etc. etc. etc....

Carrie BMarch 3, 2006

I'm getting married in September. First marriage for both me(40) and BF(47). We will have an outdoor (with a large tent), daytime wedding outside at my stepmom's place, with a big yard and a lovely pond.

Since I have a very large family, and I don't want to leave anyone out, it will not be a small wedding. But it will be fairly casual.

We will do a buffet style meal, probably catered by the local brew-pub. Depending on how much financial support we get from my mom & stepmom (his parents/my dad are dead), we may just do beer and/or wine & soda for beverages.

We may put a bunch of our favorite CD's in the stereo & try to remember to refresh them a few times over that day. BF & I may both be wearing used/thrift shop/vintage attire.

Anyway, you get the picture.

My thought was to have no assigned seating, just let people sit wherever they want. I figured people would mill about a good deal and the food could be left out for a couple of hours at least. Folks could alternate between eating, swinging on the swingset, walking by the pond, and even going for a swim (or skinny dip!) if the day is warm.

We'll probably have round tables under the tent. I mentioned the no-assigned seating idea to my work manager (a gay floral designer/manager w/ significant event experience). He thinks that no-assigned-seating is a really bad idea. According to him, every event he's ever been too that did not provide assigned seats had droves of people wandering around looking for a suitable chair where they could sit near their friends/spouse/etc.

What do you all think about this? What do you think of the rest of it.

Thanks

CarrieB, in her first - of what I am certain will be many - questions.

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sweet_pea10

I agree with you - I would not have assigned seating for the masses. I would have a head table for you and the groom and either the wedding party or the parents. If the wedding party sits with you, then have an assigned table for your parents/grandparents/siblings and one for the groom's family. Everyone else can sit where they choose. Because your wedding and reception are casual, it would be odd to add in the more formal touch of assigned seating. Your boss may have attended more formal events where guests didn't know each other and felt uncomfortable sitting with strangers.

The entire wedding sounds casual and relaxed. It should be an enjoyable time with little pressure on you and the groom.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 11:19AM
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nancylouise_gw

What sweet pea said. Your wedding is too casual for a formal seating arrangement. From what you discribed of how you would like your outdoor wedding to be, people will be off doing many different things (swimming, walking, swinging). So all the chairs and tables may not even be used at all times. Best Wishes to you and your fiance. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 12:57PM
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gellchom

Congratulations!

How many people are you having? I think it's not the formality vs. casualness of the reception, but the number of people and the flow of the reception that make the difference. As the florist said, not assigning tables at large receptions does lead to people wandering around awkwardly, balancing food and drink as they try to find a table with contiguous empty seats and having to ask repeatedly, "Can we sit with you?" Casual clothes and an outdoor setting don't make that any less awkward.

However, it sounds like you may be thinking of a more unstructured approach -- that people will be getting their food and sitting and eating it at different times. In that case, I wouldn't worry about it, maybe not even for the bridal party. The same seats will be used by more than one eater (make sure someone is clearing away used and abandoned dishes). I might reserve a table or two for elderly relatives, though -- I see that done at such events.

But if everyone is going to be sitting to eat at the same time, and you have a large group, I would do your guests a real favor and assign tables (you don't have to assign specific seats).

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 5:39PM
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Carrie B

Thanks everyone.

I think I might forego any assigned seating at all - there will be no wedding party, and the only parents left between the two of us are my mom & stepmom. My two moms might feel awkward being stuck at the same table, and choosing one to sit with me would hurt the other's feelings. I also suspect that I won't sit in any one place for long. Lots of circulating (and too nervous to sit still anyway), maybe I'll grab a salad plate & eat that somewhere, then get some lasagne and have that somewhere else, then a piece of cake at another table...

Good point about not everyone eating at once. That's kind of how I imagine it. Gellchom, you bring up something I hadn't thought of - someone clearing tables.

We've had a good number of parties at my dad's place (he died at the end of last summer, and I can't help but think of it still as his place), and generally, we just have a few large trash cans so guests can clear their own places. Is that really tacky to do for a wedding?

I think there will probably be between 100 & 150 guests at the wedding, but that includes some babies & very young children.

I just came up with another (unrelated) question about his/my families. Will start a new thread.

Thank you again.

Carrie

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 5:58PM
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gellchom

Congratulations!

How many people are you having? I think it's not the formality vs. casualness of the reception, but the number of people and the flow of the reception that make the difference. As the florist said, not assigning tables at large receptions does lead to people wandering around awkwardly, balancing food and drink as they try to find a table with contiguous empty seats and having to ask repeatedly, "Can we sit with you?" Casual clothes and an outdoor setting don't make that any less awkward.

However, it sounds like you may be thinking of a more unstructured approach -- that people will be getting their food and sitting and eating it at different times. In that case, I wouldn't worry about it, maybe not even for the bridal party. The same seats will be used by more than one eater (make sure someone is clearing away used and abandoned dishes). I might reserve a table or two for elderly relatives, though -- I see that done at such events.

But if everyone is going to be sitting to eat at the same time, and you have a large group, I would do your guests a real favor and assign tables (you don't have to assign specific seats).

    Bookmark   March 5, 2006 at 2:51PM
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gellchom

How weird! Sorry about the duplicate post.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2006 at 2:52PM
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sweet_pea10

I would ask a couple of people, perhaps teenagers, to clear tables. I have found that when people are visiting, they tend to pile the empty plates in the center of the table rather than getting up and walking to a trash can. Then they get up and leave, with the dirty dishes still on the table. Seeing a messy table will cause new arrivals to not want to sit there.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2006 at 3:24PM
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sburkhart

My Mom's a cater and I have planned many weddings. This is your wedding.... think would you like to be told where to sit. Many people like to converse and move about. So GO with your gut feeling you know your guest best!

If you need any help planning or ideas just let me know. I have a gift registry you might be intersted in ...email me for details or help
staceycooks4u@hotmail.com

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 6:28PM
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